Originally Posted on WCTV6-CBS The Usual Suspects blog as “Reevaluating the Field: Turmoil after the Primaries” on October 20, 2010By J. Robert McClure III, PhD., President and CEO of The James Madison Institute
The day after the recent spate of September national primaries, The Wall Street Journal had one of the great understatements in memory as its headline: “Primaries Stoke Turmoil.” The article added wryly that currently “both parties were reevaluating the field.” Well I bet they are…and for good reason.Across the country we are seeing numerous debates between party loyalists and voters in “flyover country” who are disgusted with all things Washington; between the entrenched party structure and those who are not beholden to any party – call them independents, moderates, Tea Partiers or just regular active citizens. From Pennsylvania to Utah and from Arizona to Florida, people from nearly every political spectrum have simply had it with being lectured to and taken for granted.Nor does this passion exclude state and local government by any means. And those who have made their living as lifelong politicians, consultants, lobbyists and comfortable members of the media in places such as Tallahassee and Washington are absolutely dumbfounded…and it’s great!This upheaval and the disputes taking place regarding government, the role of traditional parties and the importance of founding principles can be seen all over Florida. The Sunshine State is a bellwether for this nation. With our diverse demographics, housing market, growth and transportation challenges and rural vs. urban issues, Florida is the epicenter of the great policy debates of our day. Every single issue being argued nationally – pick your favorite – has already been discussed and continues to be in this state. We joke at the Institute that if California is a bellwether for all that is wrong in terms of public policy, Florida has been many times and still can be a bellwether for what is right when it comes to public policy. That makes it incumbent upon all of us who live here to become more engaged and better educated on the issues, because what will be decided here will have national consequences. What message Florida sends in November, then, has far greater influence than virtually any other state in the Union.